PITTSBURGH–LAWFUEL – The Litigation & Legal Newswire – Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture), with the support of the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), today announced it has filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against FirstEnergy Corporation for repeated and dangerous air pollution violations at its Bruce Mansfield plant in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. PennFuture is representing itself and three of its members who live near the plant, Ralph Hysong, Anna May Moore, and Robert Jones. Today’s filing alleges that the plant has violated both the federal Clean Air Act and the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act, and that neither the United States Environmental Protection Agency nor the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection have begun or are diligently prosecuting a civil or criminal action to require the plant to stop polluting.
“The citizens of Beaver County have suffered under a cloud of black rain from this plant for too long,” said Charles McPhedran, chair of PennFuture’s law staff. “They aren’t able to play outside with their children and grandchildren, swim in their swimming pools, or even grow vegetables and livestock, since the black soot from the plant makes all those activities risky. With no end in sight, we’ve had no choice but to go to court to make FirstEnergy clean up its act.”
“A parent worries about bumps and bruises when their kids play outside; Bruce Mansfield’s neighbors also worry about whether their kids will get sick from breathing the air,” said Stephanie Kodish, counsel with the Environmental Integrity Project. “This lawsuit demands that the coal plant better control its pollution to protect children’s health.”
Ralph Hysong of the Action Committee to Improve the Environment of Beaver County has been a leader in the community in fighting to stop the pollution. “I urged my children to move away,” he said. “While I miss seeing my grandchildren frequently, I could not in good conscience have them live under this awful pollution. I was watching their health deteriorate before my eyes. Now, the kids just come for short visits, and we make them stay inside as much as possible.”
Records provided by FirstEnergy show that the Bruce Mansfield plant released harmful and illegal air pollution at least 257 times between November 22, 2002 and March 29, 2007. On July 22, 2006, residents in a five mile radius of the plant were similarly deluged with “black rain,” which damaged homes, automobiles, crops, livestock and other vegetation and structures. Responding to the 2006 episode, Penn State University officials warned residents not to sell, butcher or eat livestock that had been exposed to the black rain, and farmers were instructed to throw away any crops or honey that had been exposed.
According to the lawsuit, the FirstEnergy pollution violates both federal and state law, persistently exceeding the limits for opacity (visible air contaminants). Local residents have long complained of the effect of these pollutants on their homes and property, and recently have expressed concerns about their health. PennFuture sent a letter of intent to sue FirstEnergy in May, hoping that either the regulatory agencies or FirstEnergy would take serious corrective action to make the suit unnecessary.
“The neighbors of this plant are fed up by the lack of action by FirstEnergy, and they are determined to put an end to the constant specter of air pollution,” said McPhedran. “We will use all our legal options to put an end to this nightmare.”
A copy of the complaint (http://www.pennfuture.org/UserFiles/CitizensComplaint.pdf) filed today is available on the PennFuture website, as are the declarations of the plaintiffs, Hysong (http://www.pennfuture.org/UserFiles/RALPHHYSONGDECLARATION.pdf), Moore (http://www.pennfuture.org/UserFiles/MOOREDECLARATION.pdf) and Jones (http://www.pennfuture.org/UserFiles/JONESDECLARATION.pdf).
PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization that advances policies to protect and improve the state’s environment and economy. PennFuture’s activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state and federal courts, advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level, public education and assisting citizens in public advocacy.
The Environmental Integrity Project (http://www.environmentalintegrity.org) is a non-profit non-partisan organization dedicated to stronger enforcement of existing federal and state anti-pollution laws, and to the prevention of political interference with those laws. EIP’s research and reports shed light on how enforcement and rulemaking affect public health. EIP also works closely with communities seeking enforcement of environmental laws.